MAX crisis sees Boeing oust head of commercial airplanes

October 23, 2019
Stan Deal

The Boeing 737 MAX crisis has scored its first high-level executive casualty with a terse announcement that  Boeing Commercial Airplanes chief executive Kevin McAllister has been replaced.

The former BCA boss was replaced by Stan Deal, a well-regarded veteran who had been leading Boeing Global Services and is a member of the aerospace giant’s executive council.

Deal’s appointment caused a reshuffle that saw Ted Colbert, who was previously Boeing’s head of information technology and data analytics, replace him at Global Services.

Colbert’s role has gone on an interim basis to Vishwa Uddanwadiker, who was previously vice president for information technology at BCA.

READ: Europe expects MAX to return early next year.

The restructure comes after speculation in the US media that McAllister and  Boeing chief executive Dennis Muilenburg, who was recently replaced as Boeing chairman, were on shaky ground.

McAllister has not had an easy time during his three years as head of BCA and has faced a number of problems beyond the MAX crisis. These include cracks in the structure of older 737s and delays to the Boeing 777X due to issues with its new engines.

He described Boeing as a great company with a commitment to safety he had seen first-hand “working side-by-side with many thousands of tremendously talented and dedicated employees”.

Boeing did not detail reasons for his abrupt departure and Muilenburg said simply that the company was grateful for his “dedicated and tireless service” as well as his commitment to support the transition.

“Our entire Boeing team is focused on operational excellence, aligned with our values of safety, quality and integrity, and we’re committed to delivering on our commitments and regaining trust with our regulators, customers and other stakeholders,” said in the announcement.

“Stan brings extensive operational experience at Commercial Airplanes and trusted relationships with our airline customers and industry partners, and Ted brings to our Global Services business an enterprise approach to customers and strong digital business expertise—a key component of our long-term growth plans.”

The new man in the BCA hot seat has a long history in the industry.

He joined what was then McDonnell Douglas in 1986 and worked in a  broad range of leadership positions including leading the integrated product teams for propulsion systems and structures on the 717 program, and serving as program manager for the MD-11 Japan Airlines program.

He has led Global Services since its establishment as a business unit in 2016 and previously had a number of leadership positions at BCA, including running its supply chain and serving as sales leader in the Asia-pacific.

Boeing also released a summary of what it has done since two fatal Boeing 737 MAX accidents resulted in the deaths of 346 people, revealing that it last week completed a dry run of a certification flight test for updated MCAS flight control software.

MCAS was implicated in both tragedies and Boeing has since updated the software to prevent a recurrence of the events that led up to the accidents.

However, it is still awaiting approval for the changes from the US Federal Aviation Administration and other regulators.

The manufacturer said it had completed more than 800 test and production flights with the updated flight control software totaling more than 1500 hours.

It said some 445 participants from more than 140 customers and regulators around the globe, including the FAA, had participated in simulator sessions to experience the proposed update.

“The company is making steady progress on the second software update announced in June for additional flight control computer redundancy,’’ it said.

Other actions highlighted in the summary include the establishment of a $US100 million relief fund for the families of victims and changes by the company to sharpen its focus on product and services safety.